Toyota Offers Free Access To Hybrid Car Tech

Japanese car giant Toyota Motor Corp has this week offered free access to its technology patent for hybrid vehicles.

Toyota of course was the pioneer of the mass-produced hybrid car, with the introduction of its Prius car way back in 1997.

The Prius famously contained both an electric motor and a petrol powered engine, and is the world’s most successful hybrid vehicle with over 4 million units sold worldwide.

Hybrid patents

But nowadays the car industry is focusing more on producing full electric vehicles, and into this mix comes the announcement today from Toyota that it is giving free access to its hybrid-vehicle patents through 2030.

The announcement will give car makers access to patents awarded over more than 20 years of hybrid electric vehicle technology development.

Toyota said it was making the move to help others avoid “the amount of time, money and resources needed to develop sustainable mobility to help combat rising emissions and continuing to utilise currently available technology.”

It said firstly that it will grant royalty-free licenses on nearly 24,000 patents it holds (including some pending applications) for vehicle electrification-related technologies.

Secondly, Toyota will provide fee-based technical support to other manufacturers developing and selling electrified vehicles when they use Toyota’s motors, batteries, PCUs, control ECUs, and other vehicle electrification system technologies as part of their powertrain systems.

Toyota is hoping it will help governments, car makers, and society at large accomplish goals related to climate change.

“Based on the high volume of inquiries we receive about our vehicle electrification systems from companies that recognise a need to popularise hybrid and other electrified vehicle technologies, we believe that now is the time for cooperation,” said Shigeki Terashi, executive VP of Toyota.

“If the number of electrified vehicles accelerates significantly in the next 10 years, they will become standard, and we hope to play a role in supporting that process,” he said.

Since 2015 Toyota has offered access to its hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) patents, which experts have often touted as the ultimate zero-emissions vehicle, as it doesn’t require a lithium-ion battery with all of its nasty chemical components.

Full electric

The move by one of the world’s largest car makers comes as the car industry as a whole seeks to move towards full electric cars.

And it should be noted that Toyota is not including the closely guarded patents on its lithium-ion battery technology in the free access offer.

Many car makers are now planning on offering only electric vehicles in the years ahead.

The UK’s zero emission target for new cars is 2040, but in some European countries it is much sooner than that.

Last month the Norwegian capital Oslo became the first city in the world to install wireless charging systems for electric taxis.

Quiz: Know all about tech transport?

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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